Saturday, November 15, 2008

I Like to Move It, Move It, Move It!

" Push back the desks! We're gona dance!" What a shock when you announce this in today's primary classes. "We've never done this before," they all say. "This is fun!"

Yes, I still think the subject of Dance is part of P.E...but not in our Public Schools anymore. "Physical Education", what they now call "P.E." is max two to three days a week, 20 mins. or less and it always happens outside. i.e. run/walking around the track two or three times (to "wear them out, or calm them down." I was recently told by a co-teacher) swinging on the "big toy" apparatus with no assignments or directions. That's P.E. now. Forget calesthentics, responding to the rhythm of music or marching, stretching, cardio for kids etc. No time for it now with all the mandated "testing". When I left regular teaching they were even starting to do away with the mandated "Physical Fitness Testing" every Spring. We had, years before, voluntarily participated in the "Presidential Physical Fitness Awards" where every kid got to try. Those achieving 80% or better in the 8 tasks got an award certificate signed by the P.O.T.U.S. It was a big deal. Even back then we had no dancing, folk or square mandated, let alone all the "modern ones" We would have "dance parties" in our rooms for the last half hour usually around the holidays.

At these young ages most kids are not "socially conscious" or not "embarrassed to dance in front of each other (male vs. female). In upper elementary and into middle school, it gets to be a real issue. Oh, I have stories I could tell. The fact remains, kids like to move (move it!) and usually in rhythm. I saw alittle of it last year in "special classes they had once a week for 6 weeks with their "Orff-Schulwerk" teacher, but that was mostly marching and interpretive movement, not dance or free-form "creative movement". You can observe it on the playground, in formally, when they think no one is watching and without any "stimulus mood music". It happens, despite our institution's efforts to stifle it. ("not enough time")

So, I got this "hot CD" from a website of acapella singing I check out regularly. It looked/sounded interesting. Very modern rhythms, sounds, scales etc. set to "really rather old" classic kid tunes. i.e. "Do Your Ears Hang Low?", "The Wheels on the Bus", "Pop Goes the Weasel", "If Your Happy and You Know It", (my favorite) "Itsy Bitsy Spider", Then some new ones: "Jammies" (kids loved) "The Crazy Dance" etc. They even had an extra 13th cut, "It's Hard to be Cool (in a mini-van)" This one kind of departed from the "theme" of the disc..."Party Like a Preschooler" and not drive your parents bonkers. (the music is modern and cool, throbbing beats, but the songs are tame) The last song was telling the story of a "young dad" driving his mini-van full of his young family and he see this "hot chick" in a convertible next to him...he "tempted". The sleeve is small but covered with "testimonies" of the "converted" dads of the group "Go Fish". There are no other "religious references" in the other songs.

We had an extra half hour or so at the end of the prescribed "lesson plans" this last Thursday; so I had the kids push their desks back along the sides and "come out and just respond" to the songs, move...not dance per se. Out of a class of 20, one boy went over and sat in the corner and hid, crying. We kept going, but I made sure he, and the class, understood that no one had to "dance". It was volunteer.(he "didn't like the girls looking at him" evidently) From then on I had them take turns, boys sit out and "rest" while the girls danced and visa versa. They liked that better. Some were more/less "self conscious" and some did sit out a bit. However, most "moved and enjoyed it". They wanted to do more when I called "Time Out." I gave out "reward tickets" to several, at their suggestion, who "got it on" so to speak for primary aged kids. Some, really came out of themselves and were alot less shy than they were during their "lessons" and when they were called on to read or do a math problem aloud.

Why aren't our schools even trying to educate/train the "whole child" anymore? Lots of "left-brain" activities and tasks, but very little for the "right-brain". They say they don't have time and that it is a province for the "family and/or the church or social group" after school. To my thinking, we all learn with our whole being/body. We need to react and learn kinesthetically to some topics/subjects of interest. I always have. This is why I always used drama and music in my teaching. Otherwise, It would get pretty boring...especially for me. I asked the kids, how many watched "Dancing With the Stars" on TV. Most put their hand up. How do you account for the enduring popularity of the "70's Musical Mama Mia"? It is one of the oldest, most primal forms of communication and we are ignoring it in our classrooms. When I was in my teens and earlier it was considered "sinful" to go to dances and movies. Are we reverting back to those enlightened times? RRR

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The title of this post comes from the movie "Madagascar" I and II. This is an infectious theme song and it has that kind of appeal to kids because that is just what they like to do...especially during a boring class time. I just played the "Go Fish" CD while another class did "Art"...they were all grooving and singing along. Some of the most inhibited academically were "letting go". Too bad some of them are still taught that "dancing" and this kind of music is too "worldly"...just as I a kid. RRR